Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Some People Are More Equal Than Others"

Sometimes I tell people I don't know if I'm smart enough or creative enough to make it as a screenwriter. Usually they roll their eyes and act like they think maybe I'm delusional, or digging for compliments. They tell me I'm the most creative person they know, and that they get the impression from my blog-writings that I'm pretty dang smart.

This is not the case. 

Or at least, it's not enough the case to convince me I can "make it," because the people who make it are usually really, really gifted. Let me give you an example.

My old college friend Stephen just put me onto a talk called "Some People Are More Equal Than Others." It was given by David Simon... who happens to be the creator of the brilliant TV show, THE WIRE.

Here's a typed-up, edited extract from that talk, to whet your little appetite:

"Mistaking capitalism for a blueprint as to how to build a society strikes me as a really dangerous idea in a bad way. Capitalism is a remarkable engine again for producing wealth. It's a great tool to have in your toolbox if you're trying to build a society and have that society advance. You wouldn't want to go forward at this point without it. But it's not a blueprint for how to build the just society. There are other metrics besides that quarterly profit report.

The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?
"

A little later, Simon explains how this relates to THE WIRE:

"And that's what The Wire was about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow."

That, my friends, is why I wonder if I've got what it takes. Because the people who win at this game I'm in (the people who make the TV shows and movies that are really worth making) are legitimately some of the brightest minds we've got. Yeah, sure, there are perhaps-slightly-less-brilliant people out there who are making a living putting together goofy entertainments, but there are also people out there with ivy-league degrees who are writing goofy entertainments. And I'm not sure I could even pull that off.

Anyway...

Read the full extract from his talk. Or, if you've got time, watch David Simon himself tell you how it is. It'll give you a little context for, in his words, the "Horror Show" that is America.

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